Archives For Goodness

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You are growing toward eternity, and that being true, you must live toward eternity with all of your life. The beautiful virtues of Christ, taught as He delivered the Sermon on the Mount, as He shared the story of the Good Samaritan, as taught in Matthew 25, can all be lived by the Spirit of God working in us, and through us.

When we feed the hungry in our broken world, we are pointing ahead to the future where there will be no more hunger. When we give water to the thirsty in the present, we are pointing ahead to the future where there will be no more thirst. When we clothe the naked in our midst, we are pointing ahead to the future where there will be no more want.

Most importantly, when we live God’s kingdom virtues in the present-day, we bring God the most glory, and show the world that His kingdom is at work right now among them. As a Christ follower, you are filled with God’s Spirit. Anywhere and everywhere you go, the Spirit of God is alive, and yearning to work God’s love through you. His love cast out all fear and evil. His love drives out the darkness and fills the voids of the wounded.

Beauty breaks through the thin vile that separates heaven and the earth when we live the prayer, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” When we live that prayer, the image of God is not distorted, but clear, powerful and complaining.

How will you live? The way you live follows you into the kingdom.

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I’m not a big fan of cursing the darkness. As a Christ follower,  we should be primarily concerned with being salt and light. While it’s true, the Bible calls us to reprove the works of darkness, reproving darkness and cursing the darkness are two different approaches entirely.

Cursing the darkness is throwing condemnation at those who are outside of Christ, while reproving darkness is shining our light as to awaken the sinner from their sleep. The first is done in the same spirit Jesus rebuke James and John for when they wanted to call fire down on those who rejected Christ. (See Luke 9:54)

The latter is done in the Spirit of love that understands that those outside of Christ are under condemnation already, and we have no need to throw more their way. (See John 3:18) If we are to win the world to Christ, we must do so in the greatest power know to man, which is the love of God.

Hate never reached or rescued anyone, but love has proved time and time again to rescue the most hardened heart. Jesus died to prove love real. We are called to do more than talk about grace; we are called to demonstrate grace to everyone. Yes, Even the ungrateful and evil. (See Luke 6:35)

In Ephesians 5,  we are called to take no part in unfruitful works of darkness. We are told to expose them. We expose them by  letting our light shine, and be visible, not by trying to curse the darkness and win a religious argument. When we love like Christ, His light shines and awakens the sleeper from darkness to light.

Many Christ followers need to return to trusting in the love of God to win the lost. We need to  stop trying to win them by persuasive arguments of men, arguments of condemnation.

Allow me to say it again, Hate never reached or rescued anyone, but love has proved time and time again to rescue the most hardened heart.

Gone Fishin’

May 27, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Thanks for dropping by my blog where I post 3 to 5 times a week. Please enjoy looking through the archives. I’ve gone Fishin’

Look for a new post on June 3rd, 2013. I’m taking some time with some good friends and hope to take friendships deeper and enjoy God’s creation at the same time. Thank you for your love, and thanks also for sharing with others the writings of my heart.

Peace,

Pastor Steve

 

 

“I Know”

March 5, 2013 — 2 Comments

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Yesterday I spent some time walking and praying on the land I lease for hunting. I love hunting for various reasons, but mostly I love it because it gives me time alone with God in the woods.

I love how the sun comes up in the morning, and the animals begin to move. It truly is breathtaking to watch nature dance the dance of God right in front of you. The same is true in the evenings when the sun is going down. God’s creation goes to bed in an order, and it’s astounding.

I’ve heard God speak many times and in many different ways in the woods. There are many I could share, but today I’ll just share this one moment. I was having a exceedingly awful week. I was feeling isolated and like no one knew what was going on in my life. I was at the end of my hope for things to work out.

I’m sure you have been there before also. Maybe you are there now? Maybe you feel like no one knows what you are going through? It’s a dark and lonely place to be.

I was sitting in my hunting stand, and the sun began to rise. It was cold in the woods. As the sun was coming up steam lifted from the forest floor under the warmth of the suns rays. Everything was still, and the silence was deafening. I was enjoying the moment, but I was sad inside my heart.

I felt unknown and alone. Then it happened! A bird perched on a limb right in front of my face. It was only inches away. My camouflage was hiding me well. The bird was tilting its head from side to side looking me in the eyes. I was amazed at the whole thing. God is so good!

It was then I heard the Lord speak to my soul, “I know.” That’s all it took! All would be okay. If God knows about every bird, then He surely knows about me and He most assuredly knows about you also.

Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.

The Ugly Grudge Bucket

February 21, 2013 — 4 Comments

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There is just something ugly about a Christ follower carrying grudges. Carrying around that proverbial bucket filled with ugly is a laborious task to keep doing. In fact, not only is it laborious,but also it grieves the heart of God. We are supposed to be people of forgiveness.

Grudges lead to nowhere good! Grudges damage everything. Grudges will hurt you from the inside out and will produce a wedge between you and your fellowship with God. Letting go of grudges and moving beyond them is the only godly option.

Letting go of grudges can prove to be difficult. Let’s face it, when you have been hurt, it is hard to let go. Fear often plays a role in us not letting go because we don’t want to ever be hurt again. Therefore, we hold on to the grudge and keep our guard up. As right as that may feel, you and I know deep down inside it’s just downright wrong.

You can only be free when you forgive. Otherwise, you are in a prison of your own creation. You are letting the grudge be your Lord instead of Jesus. Anger and frustration control you more than you know. However, you would do well to remember Ephesians 4:26-27 – And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Grudges are nothing to play with. Grudges can take you down a path you never thought you would go. You might do something you will regret forever. Turn before it’s to late and you jeopardize your reputation and the position you carry as a Christ follower.

Holding on to a grudge is not done in a vacuum. The longer you hold a grudge the more you will entice others into thinking about the person you are angry at in the same way you do, then you become the blind leading the blind.  Read with your heart the following verses and enjoy the rest of your day.

Hebrews 12:14-15 – Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.  Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

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Those outside of Christ have a perception of you. They know you are a follower of Christ; but how do they label you? Do they define you by all the beautiful life-giving things you are for, or do they define you by all the things you are against?

I once heard it said, “It should break our hearts that often we are known more for what we are against than what we are for, for who we have excluded than for who we have embraced.”

Years ago when I gave my life to Christ, I became part of the youth group at the church where I surrendered my life to Christ. It was an enthusiastic group of kids. They loved God very much. However, there was one thing that confused me much.

They spent a lot of time after the message in the altar praying. Now of course there was nothing wrong with that but it was some of the prayers I heard that confused me. The prayers didn’t confuse me because they were wrong. I think they confused me because they seemed incomplete. The prayers were one-sided prayers.

I would often hear prayers of repentance over sin they had committed in their lives. Of course,  there is nothing wrong with that because it’s the right thing to do. However, I would also hear prayers of repentance over things that were not sin. I’m not sure why they did that, but I can only assume it was motivated by the desire to be holy and closer to God. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with that, other than you’re repenting over something that doesn’t need repentance.

The thing that was missing were prayers that would accompany them out of an altar into the darkness of their world with the love, grace and mercy of Christ as their battle cry. Instead, I often saw these same kids walk into the darkness preaching their convictions onto those outside the faith. Therefore, many of them became known for what they were against, instead of what they were for.

I once heard Billy Graham say, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.” I love that! I don’t have the ability to convict anyone. I do have the ability to bring guilt to someone but that not the same as the conviction the Holy Sprite brings. I much rather leave the task of drawing the heart of the outsider to Christ in the hands of the Spirit of God.

I don’t have the right to judge the outsider. That’s the job of God when He sees fit to do so. (Judging one another in the church is for another post) However, I will share just one scripture. 1 Cor 5:12, “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.”

It’s my job and your job to love! When we love and show God’s love to the world it melts and convicts the heart of the outsider. When people met Jesus, they didn’t walk away with an opinion of what He was against. (Well, the religious Pharisees did because they needed to be shook up) When people encountered Jesus, they walked away hopeful because of what He was for.

So, allow me to ask you one last time. Those outside the faith, Do they define you by all the beautiful life-giving things you are for, or do they define you by all the things you are against?

Live like Jesus. Love like Jesus and He will change the world through your witness.

Behind The Glass

January 21, 2013 — 3 Comments

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“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Martin Luther King Jr.

I love to watch children play together before they manifest selfishness, racism, and a host of other fallen world personality reflections.

It’s seems to be a little taste of the God’s future Kingdom manifesting in the now.

It’s a short window, but it seems to exist. Behind the glass is a little taste of heaven. All you have to do is go to a hospital and observe the babies behind the glass of the nursery.  Grown adults from every culture and race can be seen looking through the glass at a community of babies that have yet to learn the voice of a fallen world.

In other words, we learn the language of this fallen world once when come out from behind the glass. I’m not here to debate if we are born this way or learn our fallenness.  I’m sure it’s a combination of both. We are born sinners, and we learn to sin pretty well.

But what if there is another language to learn? What if there is another community to be part of?

The answer to both questions is, there is! It’s called the Kingdom of God. It is God’s rule and reign in the here and now. The resurrection has brought the future forward.

Christ Followers have another language and community that we are part of.

We know there is another Identity that was stamped on us when we gave our life to Christ.

When we were born again into God’s Kingdom, we were called to a Kingdom way of loving and living among the outside others. We were given a new language of love to learn

It’s a community that seeks to live how it will one day fully be when God sets all things right at His coming. Part of that the future is leaking into the present through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

The Kingdom of God is about unlearning our old stamped identity and learning a new way of being human.

The bible ends with a multitude of people and a calm sea of humanity living and worshiping God in their glorified bodies in a world that has finally been put to right forever.

As Christ Followers, We have been called to reflect God’s future Community among the lost of the world. We are God’s love language to the world. We are God’s community that is setting things right. We are God’s temple. Now go live like it.

“Those in whom the Spirit comes to live are God’s new Temple. They are, individually and corporately, places where heaven and earth meet.”
N.T. Wright,

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When you find yourself around a self-centered person, the easy thing to do is withhold love. Show them God’s love regardless. They may not want to experience that kind of love but give it nonetheless.

The act of compassion you do toward others may not be remembered by them but do it anyway. You will be vulnerable when you move in the way God moves but walk His way anyhow.

What you give away to others might not return to you in the form of a blessing but give abundantly notwithstanding. It makes you smell like God’s servant.

From the cross,  we see true agape love.  Luke 23:34 we read, 34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”

Just a few thoughts from me to you.

Guilt And The Lap Of God

January 17, 2013 — 2 Comments

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Have you ever had trouble staying awake during your prayer time? Many years ago I had a season in my life where I fell asleep more often than I would like to acknowledge. At first, it didn’t bother me much. I just excused it because I had been working a little more than usual.

However, guilt quickly set in, and it made me feel horrible.  Each time I fell  asleep it just increased the guilt. I was beginning to  feel shame, and I had thoughts of God being seriously disappointed in me. It’s distressing enough, I thought, to fall asleep during prayer but to feel like God was disappointed in me was worse.

No matter how hard I tried to stay awake during this period of my life, I would doze off. No one else knew but me, and of course God, but I was feeling like a spiritual failure. I was feeling like God was mad at me. I was trying hard to stay awake but getting nowhere. I heard the voice of guilt more than the voice of God.

Then it happened! One day I came home from work early, and my daughter who was about four at the time came running up to me and said, “Daddy, can you read me this book in your chair?” I smiled and said, “Of course I will.”

We settled into my favorite chair, and I lifted her up and into my lap. She turned her head slightly back and up and made eye contact with me, accompanied by a smile. I was feeling pretty good. I was having a perfect Father and Daughter moment.

As I was reading, she would look up and back at me asking questions and making comments. I was completely pleased with the moment. We were simply spending time together, and it felt incredible.

As I continued to read, her conversation and questions fell silent. She was getting tired. It wasn’t long until she fell asleep in my arms. I closed the book and just enjoyed the time we were having together. I was thankful she wanted to spend time with me at all.

Then it happened! God spoke and healed my guilt about falling asleep on Him. I could hear Him whisper to my heart. “Are you mad at her for falling asleep?” My heart whisper back to God was, “No Lord, I love just being with her.” His response back was, “I feel the same way about you.”

It was on that day God took my guilt away. His love for me was not based on effort and discipline, even though they are beneficial. His love for me is unconditional, and He is pleased even when I fall asleep in His lap with His arms wrapped around me.

The Comfort of HOWEVER

January 11, 2013 — 2 Comments

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There are times in my day that I’m not thinking about God at all. I’m just living life. However, there is never a time that God is not thinking about me. God is always thinking about me, and He is always thinking about you.

Psalm 139:17-18, How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with you.

There are times I give up. I’m tired and worn out. I just can’t do anymore. However, God never gets tired.

Isaiah 40:28 “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.”

There are times my talent can’t handle all that I face daily. However, nothing is too hard for God. He shows up beyond my talent.

Jeremiah 32:17, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you.”

There are times I break promises, even when I have the best intentions to fulfill them. However, God is forever faithful and never drops a promise to the floor.

Psalm 89:34 “My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of my lips.”

There are times I remember a sin I’ve committed, and it drives me to heavy guilt. However, God has made a choice to not remember them.

Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake; and I will not remember your sins.”

I could go on and on, but I think I’ll sum up the greatness of God with one last scripture.

2 Timothy 2:13,  “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

I can’t trust myself to be perfect, but I can trust that God who is perfect is working on me, with me, and through me. Be encouraged today and live in the comfort of HOWEVER.